What is the secret to staying hydrated when you’re running, enabling you to train or race at your best? We’ve all read how important it is to drink when doing sport but when, how much? It’s not so easy to get that perfect balance but it’s vital to a successful race/run.
So, whether you’re a guzzler or swear off running with a bottle, if you get muscle cramps or feel drained after hot weather running, let’s talk hydration….
Knowing how much you need to drink per hour of exercise is the challenging bit. Research suggests that we need between 300-800ml of liquid per hour, depending on conditions and the individual. That is a large margin of difference, so how to narrow it down?
Firstly, trust your thirst. Then consider the weather. Aim for 300ml in moderate temperatures and 400ml in hotter conditions, but carry more so you can increase if you feel the need.
Experiment, write down how much you drink and how you feel in the 24 hours after your run. Check your urine immediately after your run and the next day. Then adjust what you drink next run. If you write down the results you won’t be struggling to remember and you will establish exactly what works for you.
Now, what to drink? You will need to experiment but there are two basic options: Water plus electrolytes or plain water combined with gels. If you choose the latter you need to make sure you’re consuming enough gels to hit the electrolyte balance, just one gel on a 90 minute run is not going to work. Gels supply you with energy as well as electrolytes.
So if you are consuming good quality gels (see below for my recommendations) every half hour or so and sipping water regularly you only need to experiment with how much water you need – as laid out above.
Maurten Gel 100
Rhubarb & Custard £1.55
Salted Watermelon £1.20 £1.90
If you don’t use gels then mix your water with electrolyte rich energy sources. When running in high temperatures you can add Nuun to your water and also consume your gels for more of an electrolytes boost.
Maurten Drink Mix 160 Sachets
Tailwind Nutrition 2 Serving Stickpack
If you experience stomach cramps, a feeling of indigestion, or like your stomach is uncomfortable from being full of water, then drinking less is not necessarily the solution, especially if you feel light headed when you cut down water consumption. Instead you need to increase the sodium going into your body. Personally this is my experience on hot, long runs. A combination of Elete add-in in my water plus electrolyte-rich gels has solved the problem. When I run with two bottles one contains Elete and the other Active Root to settle my stomach.
Elete Electrolyte Add-In 25ml
Active Root Single Sachet (1 x 35g)
Green Tea £1.50
These quench your thirst, absorb faster than water and supply a little bit of energy.
These absorb at the same rate as water, quench your thirst and also give you an energy boost. Tailwind appears here again as you can alter the amount of water you mix it with.
Hydration package when you’ve only got access to water, like during a race.
Carry some salt chews (they taste fine) plus whichever gels you like best of these sodium packed options.
Hydration package for your training runs
Choose one solution for your water bottle and supplement with some gels for additional energy. If using Maurten only combine with Maurten Gels as that will be the simplest for your body to digest.
How to carry water on your runs
After using a waist belt for many years, I’m now a Race Vest convert and I love it! You have space for all the gels you need, your phone, your energy bar (for those long, long runs) and two bottles packed full of hydration. I put Active Root in one and Elete Add-in in the other.
Women's Ultimate Direction Women's Halo Vest
Men's Ultimate Direction Men's Halo Vest